'Free-spirited' Proteas not bringing any 'baggage' into World T20, insists Markram

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The Proteas celebrate a wicket. (Photo by Isuru Sameera/Gallo Images)
The Proteas celebrate a wicket. (Photo by Isuru Sameera/Gallo Images)
  • Proteas star Aiden Markram says they aren't carrying any "baggage" going into the ICC World T20 in the UAE.
  • The 26-year-old batter painted a relaxed vibe in the camp and pointed out the only past lesson being applied from failed campaigns is to be more adaptable.
  • He's also not reading too much into him and Kagiso Rabada "knowing" how to win a world title - as juniors back in 2014.

Aiden Markram, along with Kagiso Radaba, is part of a rare breed: a South African cricketer that's actually won a World Cup.

Indeed, the 26-year-old Proteas batter was captain of what is increasingly becoming a legendary 2014 vintage that claimed the Under-19 title, ironically in the UAE, where the ICC World T20 kicks off this weekend.

Yet you won't find Markram harping on about how that experience puts him in a better position to deal with South Africa's now infamous bogey at showpiece tournaments.

There's a very simple reason for that - junior World Cups aren't quite as intense as the real deal at senior level.

READ | Markram and Proteas emboldened by 'awesome news' of fans' return: 'It's a win-win'

"The pressure is a lot more. The World Cup is a high-pressure environment, and under all that pressure you need to put performances together as individuals to help the team win. At under-19 level, there's not too much of that," said Markram.

"At the time there wasn't too much media exposure. There was a lot less pressure on the players to bring a trophy home. You experience the same type of things but everything's a lot more exaggerated at a big World Cup."

He would definitely know as, perhaps unfortunately, he made the squad for 2019's shabby showing in England, where the Proteas were undermined by injuries to key bowlers and fragile confidence.

However, Markram has also been an increasingly prominent member of an understated but canny national T20 squad under Mark Boucher that's been surprisingly consistent.

And that low-flying nature extends to how the Proteas are approaching this year's edition.

"We're not bringing too much baggage into this World Cup. Everyone here is pretty free-spirited and not too fazed about being at a World Cup, in a good way," said Markram.

"Everyone's very calm so far. Obviously we'll try not to make the same mistakes that we did in 2019, but this is a different format and completely different conditions, and we've got a completely different side."

While the side will undoubtedly have their discussions over how to approach the tournament, Markram insists there hasn't been much reminiscing over previous failed campaigns.

Perhaps that's for the better.

"We haven't had too many chats about (2019 and previous) World Cup(s)," he said.

Detractors will argue South Africa needs to address seemingly inherited mental blocks when it comes to pressurised World Cup environments though Markram points out the team is more focused on just being more adaptable, the one lesson that has been applied from the failure in the UK two years ago.

"When conditions didn't suit our plans, we almost didn't have other plans to fall back on. That's been addressed, and we've got a way of cricket we'd like to play against each team. But if conditions on the day don't allow for that we have to be smarter and have another plan to fall back on," he said.

"Having the skill set to trust in that change of plan has been important. Over the last 12 to 18 months the team have up-skilled themselves. That's probably the biggest thing we can take from the 2019 World Cup."

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